The Must-Watch Comedy Show Cunk on Earth is Out Now on Netflix

It’s official! The hit British comedy series Cunk on Earth has arrived on Netflix. Before you’re locked out of your cousin’s ex-girlfriend’s step-father’s account at the end of March, make time to watch it.

If the title sounds unfamiliar, perhaps a memorable quote from the show will ring a bell:

“Which was more culturally significant? The Renaissance or ‘Single Ladies’ by Beyoncé?” A question for the ages. If you’ve been on TikTok within the past month, you’ve likely heard this audio clip. In case you haven’t, the line is delivered with utmost sincerity and in total deadpan by the wonderful Philomena Cunk. (She’s serious, by the way. She wants to know which is more culturally significant.) 

Cunk is a fictional character created by Charlie Brooker of Black Mirror fame and performed by actor and comedian Diane Morgan. Cunk is an absurd woman, unable to grasp concepts like the wheel or the passage of time or the fact that numbers larger than 700 exist. This makes her the perfect fit for hosting a documentary series about the history of humanity. Where David Attenborough brings gravitas and maturity, Philomena Cunk brings absolute stupidity.  

The character debuted in Brooker’s 2013 show Weekly Wipe. She has subsequently appeared in several limited series, such as Cunk on Britain (2016–2018) and Cunk & Other Humans (2019). Morgan even helped co-write the character’s own book, Cunk on Everything: The Encyclopedia Philomena. Cunk on Earth is only her latest venture, but it takes her to places like never before. The 5-episode series spans millennia of human history, from the domestication of cattle—which Cunk interprets from cave paintings as a war between human and bovine kind—to the creation of smartphones. Join Cunk as she embarks on a “journey that will take [her] to every corner of the globe money and pandemic travel restrictions would allow.” 

The comedy writing for Cunk on Earth is phenomenal. Nearly every line is a slap in the face in the best way. The writers utilize “simple truth” humor to great effect, having Cunk interpret everything as literal, such as wondering why Americans have the right to bear arms (those poor creatures). Shock comes from her complete lack of social awareness; she sees no harm in asking, “Which is better: the Bible or the Quran?” Despite her absurdity on constant display, she never feels tiresome and her humor never feels overdone. The show has several memorable recurring gags, including a clip of Technotronic’s 1989 hit “Pump Up the Jam.” The music video is overlaid with nonsensical and incorrect “fun facts” reminiscent of the opening credits of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).

The image is from the "Pump Up the Jam" music video. A man and woman stand in front of a greenscreen. Text in an overlay reads, "The lyrics give clues to the location of a buried golden hare that has never been found."
One such “fun fact” written for “Pump Up the Jam.”

Morgan deserves heaps of praise for her portrayal of Cunk. She delivers the ridiculous lines fed to her perfectly, and her facial expressions only further seal the deal. She plays well off the historians she interviews, all of whom are worthy of their own recognition. These bright minds are not actors; they are real historians dedicated to their respective fields, working as professors at esteemed universities like Cambridge and Oxford. They are fantastic sports about the affair, humoring Cunk and her eccentricities. You can’t help but mirror the utter disbelief on their faces after some of Cunk’s most absurd questions.

If you are in need of a good laugh, look out for Philomena Cunk’s latest show. 

Cunk on Earth is streaming on Netflix.